A big moment for Domien Michiels and Intermezzo in Gothenbur

Belgium’s Domien Michiels celebrating victory with Intermezzo van het Meerdaalhof at today’s penultimate leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League series in Gothenburg, Sweden. (FEI/Kim C Lundin)

FEI Dressage World Cup 2023-2024, Western European League. Written by Louise Parkes

Belgium’s Domien Michiels couldn’t hide his delight when winning the penultimate leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League series in Gothenburg, Sweden with his 16-year-old gelding Intermezzo van het Meerdaalhof.

The pair have extensive experience together having flown their country’s flag at the Tokyo Olympics Games in 2021, the World Championship in 2022 and the last two European Championships. But in their long partnership, they never posted a major international victory – until today.

“It is my first big international win so it is very special! This horse is also the first I rode at Grand Prix level. I have him since he was four so this is a very special day, the highlight of my career!”

Domien Michiels BEL

said the 40-year-old athlete who is based in the centre of Belgium.

In yesterday’s Grand Prix he finished second behind Swedish winner Maria von Essen with Invoice. Today, however, the host-nation pair had to settle for the runner-up spot, while Spain’s Borja Carrascosa and Sir Hubert NRW lined up in third ahead of another Belgian duo, Alexa Fairchild with Mala Skala’s Hermes, in fourth place.



Michiels took the lead when fifth-last to go of the nine starters, his score of 78.300 leaving him well clear of the rest of the field following a test that demonstrated the firm partnership he has established with the horse he calls Inter. Their ability to transition so smoothly and quietly from extended canter to balanced pirouette epitomised the mutual understanding that underpinned their lovely performance. 

Von Essen was next to go, and in only their fifth international Grand Prix together her 12-year-old gelding showed great lift in piaffe/passage for a score of 76.200, while in their fourth outing in the Western European League this season Carrascosa and Sir Hubert put 75.630 on the board. 

The Spanish rider was clearly well pleased, smiling broadly as he landed his final halt. And he had plenty more to smile about when he realised his third-place finish had rocketed him all the way from fourteenth place to eighth on the League table from which the top nine will qualify for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2024 Final in April.

“If I can go to the Final I am ready!”, he said. “I’ve been living in Germany for 13 years and it has been a big chance for me to be at the middle of the top sport. I miss the nice weather of Spain but it was a good decision for my riding career!”, he added.

Runner-up Von Essen had plenty to feel good about too. “I am very happy with my horse. It is only his second season at the top level and he needs time. I am happy how he is behaving and he is getting better and better. We both really like the Freestyle because it’s so much fun to ride!”, she said.

Happiest athlete

But the happiest athlete of all was the winner Michiels whose personal-best score with Inter today is such a career highlight. He said this evening that this result is all due to the connection he has with the horse he has known for such a long time. 

“It goes back to when he was four years old when I tried him out. I felt something special in him then and I thought I could do a lot with him, I believed in him”, he explained. “He wasn’t a big mover but sometimes you just have a special connection. A lot of unexpected things happened like the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Europeans as well. Everything has happened really fast, but the partnership is what is so important. We understand each other, and I trust him as well. 

“Today he was a bit afraid when he came into the arena because it is really big and the sound of all the people was so great, but he trusted me in that moment and we went in and I knew he would do everything for me. That’s what it is all about!”

Domien Michiels BEL

said the rider who runs a busy breeding, training and competition stable. 

He enjoys seeing horses through their entire career. “I like to see how young horses develop from a foal hopefully all the way to Grand Prix level. I like to see the evolution of a horse and to build a bond together with the horse and then see what happens in the future with them”, he explained.

His ambition now is another Olympic one. His plan for Intermezzo is to give him a good rest, “he deserves it after today!” – and then to try for a spot on the Belgian team in Paris this summer.

“That’s the target and if it happens it happens but I’m not going to put any pressure on him. If it doesn’t work out then we will just go together to some nice competitions, but this one now is my favourite – Gothenburg, Sweden is just perfect!”, he said tonight.

The eleventh and last leg of the Western European League series will take place in two weeks’ time in ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

Don’t miss a hoofbeat, watch all the action on FEI.TV.

Discover more from Everything Horse Magazine

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Related posts